Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

What kind of Democracy, Whose Integration? Construction of democracy and integration into the EU of Estonia

January 2000

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


Integration into the European Union has for many years been one of the top priorities of the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs), playing a central role in both their foreign and domestic policies. Preparing for membership in the EU is in many ways connected to the development of democracy in these countries. The Union has declared support to democracy in the applicant countries to be one of the main priorities of eastern enlargement. In addition to concrete support, however, I argue that the relevance of the EU for democracy in the CEECs is even more due to indirect influence – integration is a dominant issue in the domestic politics of these countries and therefore an important part of continuous (re)production of democracy. This paper studies what kind of democracy has been constructed in one of the eastern applicant countries, Estonia, in the course of integration into the EU. It analyses firstly the different conceptions of democracy that have been presented and put into practice as part of that process. Secondly, it places integration into the EU in the context of democratic politics of Estonia, asking whether preparations for EU membership have left room for more than a formal democracy to function.